Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!
Our female scientists are absolutely integral to Ontario parks, working as researchers, biologists, ecologists and more!
Take a look at some of our amazing scientists:
Erica Barkley, area ecologist
Erica helps staff protect and enhance ecological integrity in Ontario parks.
His favorite part of the job is applying science to restore rare habitats, such as tallgrass prairies. He directs prescribed burns that are carefully planned and well supported by science and fire behavior models.
Erica after a prescribed burn, posing with Prairie Buttercup, a rare plant she is working to protect
Erica also works to promote citizen science initiatives like iNaturalist, recognizing that park visitors can also be scientists and contribute to our understanding of provincial parks and conservation reserves.
“I have had great role models and mentors who have paved the way to say that there are no limits to what a young woman who loves snakes can achieve. “I am grateful to the women who came before me and overcame those obstacles.”
Tanya Berkers, Resource Management Group Leader
Tanya works directly on habitat management and restoration throughout Pinery Provincial Park, including the reintroduction of species like the Mottled Duskywing. She works directly with the planning and implementation of prescribed burns at Pinery and surrounding sister parks to improve habitat quality for greater species diversity and ecosystem health.
Tanya collects data on white-tailed deer, which helps parks make decisions about how best to manage deer populations. This type of work leads her to work in direct collaboration with local indigenous communities who help with population control, uniting science and culture.
“Ontario’s entire society and economy depends on functioning natural ecosystems: clean air, clean water, healthy soils and biodiversity. Ontario Parks are meant to protect the best examples of healthy ecosystems that exist in this province, and working for Ontario Parks gives me the opportunity to protect these incredible places, learn how they work, and share what I learn with everyone who meets them. they visit.”
Rebecca Rogge, Resource Manager/Invasive Species Team Leader
Rebecca leads an invasive species search, monitoring and management team based in northeastern Ontario. With high water levels in the Great Lakes, we have been using a “mow and drown” method to select and eventually eliminate stands of invasive common reed.
“I decided to get into parks when I was 15 because I wanted to protect these special places and the unique features they contain. Helping the Northeast Zone control invasive species before they cause significant ecological or recreational damage is exactly the kind of work I imagined myself doing.”
Morgan Hawkins, Wildlife Management Project Leader
Morgan drafts a wildlife policy to support our Ontario Parks staff. It is important for park staff to know how to respond to a bear in a camper cooler, a raccoon in the dumpster, or a “jam moose.” Parks are for the protection of wildlife and the enjoyment of people – Morgan works to keep them safe and happy!
Morgan rings snow geese in Polar Bear Provincial Park
“It is important to defend our wildlife because it is difficult for them to speak for themselves. Most of my career has been spent in the field with ATVs in remote locations. It is a physical and mental challenge, and every day many more women join that sector of science. Don’t be afraid to work outside your comfort zone.”
Amy Tanner, Environmental Assistant
Working in our Southwest Zone Office allows Amy to participate in a wide variety of ecological work, including at-risk species monitoring and restoration projects and projects focused on invasive species control.
Left: Amy conducts aerial reconnaissance. Right: Amy works with endangered species
Amy has conducted aerial surveys of white-tailed deer in southern Ontario to track deer population distribution and abundance in six parks. She has also conducted snake cover studies to assess snake population trends within the province and contribute to long-term monitoring of snakes in Ontario.
“The field of science has interested me since I was a child. In particular, he loved nature and the outdoors and would spend hours exploring outdoors, which I believe led me down the path of pursuing a career in ecology.
“I really enjoy being able to see projects from start to finish, from doing data collection to field work, analyzing that data, writing a report, and then seeing how adaptive management is done based on the information. “I know my contribution to science is valuable when I can directly see the changes that occur based on the information and analysis I have been able to provide.”
Heather Sanders-Arseneault, Bat Monitoring and Research Technician
Heather has been leading research on Little Brown Myotis in Pinery Provincial Park for the past two years. She is studying the movement of bats from roost to roost, tagging individual species, monitoring the population, and educating park users about the importance of bats.
“Bats are especially fascinating creatures because they are unique and there is still a lot we don’t understand about them. Also, unfortunately they have a bad reputation that they really don’t deserve.
“My goal is to set the record straight, to find answers to the questions we have as researchers and educators, so that we can properly support and live in harmony with these critical animals.”
Taryn Lourie, Environmental Assistant
Taryn focuses her efforts on supporting the recovery of endangered species. Provincial parks are special places that many at-risk species call home. She is proud to contribute to important conservation efforts and help others get involved too.
Taryn examines an endangered eastern fox snake
“Ontario Parks has allowed me to put my passion to work. I am currently working on implementing recovery activities for an endangered shorebird, the piping plover. This includes important things like bird surveys, habitat restoration, assisting researchers, and training volunteers to be citizen scientists. By encouraging stewardship and sharing positive messages about conservation, we can do a lot to help struggling species in today’s world.
“I want to encourage girls to do what they love. If you are fascinated by creatures that crawl and crawl, you enjoy getting muddy, and even if people think you are a little “weird” because of it, I want you to know that everything is okay. Be curious. Explore your world and follow your passions – you never know where they will take you!
Amy Hall, Resource Management Leader
Amy has spent the last five years working on various resource management projects in Pinery Provincial Park. From species at risk to coastal management, she is an ambassador for ecosystem protection.
Amy has been marking adult turtles with unique patterns etched into the shell in hopes of better understanding populations of at-risk species in the Pinery.
Amy has been leading a turtle project for the past few summers focused on population recruitment and species monitoring. The main goal of her project is to ensure that as many hatchlings as possible make it through the summer and reach the Old Ausable Channel in the fall. Amy has installed nest guards on dozens of nests in the park, preventing raccoon predation.
“I always had a passion for wildlife and the outdoors growing up, but it wasn’t until my first summer working at the Pinery that I realized my love for turtles. I had the opportunity to animal care for some of our resident (rescue) turtles at the Visitor Center. Working closely with these incredible reptiles made me fall in love. Since that summer, I have been looking to learn everything I can about reptiles and work to conserve Ontario’s wild reptile species. I have had many great opportunities to work with wildlife and feel very lucky every time I am able to work outdoors and in close proximity with wild animals. “I realize it is a great privilege to do it and no matter how many turtles I catch, it always feels like a special experience.”
To all the incredible women scientists working passionately to understand and protect our natural spaces: thank you for your hard work and expertise, and congratulations on all your achievements!
Why are your scientists detecting wildlife? Can I collect snakes and turtles too?
Do not handle birds, mammals or reptiles unless you are helping to remove them safely from the road. The staff members pictured here are trained biologists engaged in professional research. These biologists follow a strict animal care protocol approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. These protocols review the desired outcome of the research and ensure that steps are taken to place the least amount of stress on the animal as possible. We ask that you always observe animals from a distance for your safety and that of the animal.